Hiking the Scottish National Trail (part 6): the hardcore Cape Wrath trail

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Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1, part 2 part 3 , part 4 and part 5.

Day 29: Morvich → Maol-Bhuidhe bothy (23km)

The trail takes us up over a pass to the Falls of Glomach, a mighty 113m high waterfall. We follow a boggy, remote Landrover track to Maol-Bhuidhe bothy (section 30). We’re lucky today: there’s not much rain, so the river separating us from the bothy is an easy paddle. We’d been worried that this bothy would be closed for hunting season, but it’s thankfully open.

A weather warning tells us that 80km p/h winds are forecast the next day, so we have a day off in the recently refurbished bothy. The winds pick up to insane speeds and the river becomes uncrossable. We venture outside only to piss and to collect water from the raging river.

Hiking the Scottish National Trail (part 5): slogging through bogs on the Cape Wrath trail

All hiking posts, Cape Wrath Trail, Hiking, Scotland, Scottish National Trail

Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1, part 2 part 3 and part 4.

Day 24: Fort Augustus -> Mandally (18km)

It is, of course, pouring down when we begin the trail again. The SNT joins the Great Glen Way at section 26, following the Caledonian canal, before turning up into pine forestry at Loch Oich.

We find a lovely camping spot on a mossy track in some forestry, right by the tiny hamlet of Mandally. Here, section 27 of the SNT joins the infamous Cape Wrath Trail. We will now be following the CWT all the way to the top of Scotland. There is no indication that we’re now on the UK’s most difficult hike: the CWT is an unmarked trail, and is only for  experienced hikers.

Hiking the Scottish National Trail (part 4): bothy-hopping in the Cairngorms

All hiking posts, Hiking, Scotland, Scottish National Trail

Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1, part 2 and part 3.

Day 16: Pitlochry → Glen Tilt (15.5km)

Chris has joined me on the SNT, and I will no longer be hiking alone. He has picked the most beautiful area yet to begin his hike (section 20 of the official trail notes), a really lovely walk in the woods along the water’s edge, stopping for rest at the beautiful river bank.

Scottish National Trail (part 3): racing against the storms from Glasgow to Pitlochry

All hiking posts, Hiking, Scotland, Scottish National Trail

Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. Read part 1 and part 2.

Day 10 – Cadder -> oak tree between Milngavie & Drymen (16km)

“It was lovely weather before you came!” my Mum tells me again and again as I watch the rain from her window. I can’t imagine Scotland ever having lovely weather.

So it comes as no surprise to me that it’s shitting down when I rejoin the trail in Cadder after a couple of days’ break.

Scottish National Trail (part 2): canal walking from Edinburgh to Glasgow

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Last Autumn I hiked the length of Scotland on the Scottish National Trail. See part 1 here.

I take a week off of hiking to go and help shut down an opencast coal mine in the north of England.  By the time I’m back in Scotland, my feet are finally no longer sore!

Day 7: Edinburgh -> near Philipstoun (12km)

I take a train out of the centre of Edinburgh and join the trail at Edinburgh Park station. This is because I want to go to Decathlon to pick up some gear. The irony isn’t lost on me, buying cheap petro-chemical gear to go and hike in nature.

Today marks the first of a few long days of canal walking, following the Union canal and then the Forth and Clyde canal. I’m a bit wary about walking along canals for days. “Where will I camp?” is my main concern, followed by, “it’s going to be so boring!”

Hiking in the Annapurna range, Nepal

All hiking posts, Annapurna Base Camp/Annapurna Sanctuary, Hiking, Khopra Danda, Nepal, Mahare Danda, Nepal, Nepal

I hiked in Nepal’s Annapurna range, combining three routes – Mohare Danda, Khopra Danda, and the Annapurna Base Camp – to make one two-week trek. Below I talk about my experiences & include information about costs and time taken for other hikers to make use of. I include information about whether there is phone signal/electricity so that hikers have peace of mind. I hiked in February/March 2018 (ooops – it took me a long while to publish this!!).

Hiking the Cape to Cape Trail, Australia

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The Cape to Cape is a week-long 135km hike on the south-west coast of Australia.

The trail is really stunning. We hike over cliff tops (take sun cream!) with spectacular views of the turquoise sea. We walk through native forest, up and down sand dunes and along beaches. We pass stunning rock formations and hop over terrifying blowholes. We walk past a memorial for dead surfers, and then watch surfers tackling massive waves.

The Cape to Cape is an exhausting slog. Although not a technically difficult trail in any way, every step is through sand. Even when you’re not walking on the beach, you’re walking on sand. A week of hiking on this terrain is difficult! I think, “this is more exhausting than the Larapinta Trail!” a number of times.

Reflections on hiking the Larapinta Trail

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Having completed the Larapinta Trail, I thought I would write about my opinion of it, and add something about the logistics of organising the hike. Read my day-by-day account of the trail here.

Wow! What a hike! The Larapinta Trail can’t be faulted in any way and is one of my favourite ever hikes. Everything about the trail is well organised, from the website, trail notes and really amazing maps (you buy the maps and trail notes as a package), to the campsites and water tanks. The trail is well waymarked, so it’s very difficult to get lost.

Hiking in grizzly bear country: Daisetsuzan national park, Hokkaido

All hiking posts, Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan, Hiking, Japan

 “Remain calm and ready your bear spray,” I read on the Bear Smart website as we go up up up in a cable car.

“BEAR SPRAY? What bear spray?” I moan at Chris. “No-one told us to carry bear spray! Do they sell it in the tourist information shop down there? WE NEED BEAR SPRAY!”

But it’s too late. The cable car is already taking us up through thick clouds, leading us to the trailhead of our hike in Daisetsuzan national park. My phone loses signal as I frantically search online for what to do if you don’t have bear spray.

Hiking the Dewa Sanzan in Honshu, Japan

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Japan is a hiker’s paradise, and the Dewa Sanzan (the three mountains of Dewa) is a  pilgrimage route of the aesthetic Shugendo religion. Shugendo pilgrims and Japanese hikers can walk all three mountains – Haguro San, Gas San and Yudono San – although many non-religious hikers choose to walk just one or two of the mountains. Each mountain has a Shugendo shrine perched on the top.

The first mountain of the pilgrimage, Haguro San, is an easy walk, involving hundreds of beautiful stone steps.

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Walking the hundreds of steps between Japanese cedar trees up Haguro San

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Shrines at the bottom of Haguro San. These shrines weirdly worship the deities of mining, nation-building, fisheries, and national prosperity, to name a few. To me and Chris, this is contradictory to the little we have learned about Shugendo